Journey Architect. It’s a role Kym Pham created for herself. The words came to her in a moment of clarity: You are here to journey with others to stunning, sacred places and bring them home to themselves.
And that’s what she does.
Kym designs and hosts sold-out journeys around the globe that allow each participant to explore the external and physical world, and their secret, internal worlds.
Kym’s nomadic life leads her around the world, inviting her to pay keen attention to signs and messages from the lands she explores. She is soon approached 100 countries and over 100 lessons.
The day was gray and misty. It was raining softly in the morning chill.
An affinity for sacred places and a favorite book brought Kym to Machu Picchu in January, the start of a new year.
Bad weather had led to a power outage in the tiny village at the base the night before, leaving Kym with no way to withdraw cash and no reassurance she would make it to where she needed to be. But through the kindness of complete strangers she met in the chaos, she made it to Machu Picchu the next morning before dawn.
As with most popular places, she expected to feel like just another person in the crowd and had accepted that. But at the entrance to the ancient site, Kym found herself alone.
She spotted two llamas embracing one another and found her anxiety from the night before melt into delight. It was nice to be reminded that, no matter what we might think of a place, there is always room for surprise.
As she walked around the sacred place with no one else in sight, Kym felt like an early explorer, marveling at the seemingly secret treasure before her.
Layers of mountains stood in the distance, water rushed somewhere below, and a beautiful fog went in and out around her. After some time, Kym found a corner — on the edge of the cliff, surrounded by stone walls — and sat down to write in her journal.
She silently asked for a sign about the direction she was going, something she often does on her trips.
Then, Kym found a snail’s shell. She hadn’t seen one in years and the sight immediately transported her back to an early childhood memory, crouching on the ground to look at a snail with intense curiosity. A moment full of wonder, curiosity, and excitement because of something so simple. The same feeling she had while walking around Machu Picchu.
For 10 days, Kym and her boyfriend lived according to the sun. They woke at sunrise and slept at sunset. The simplicity of life while hiking Annapurna in Nepal suited them well, and they got used to it quickly.
Boots on dirt, footstep after footstep climbing higher.
Their days were devoted to one simple task: finding the next teahouse. They’d often arrive after dark, not knowing what surrounded them. Every night was a mystery and every morning revealed the beauty around them.
The higher Kym climbed, the more connected she felt to the earth. To the ground below her feet, the mountains and the trees, the colors of the sky.
At 4,000 meters and nearing the apex of the trek, Kym couldn’t breathe. The air had changed and her lungs struggled to work. But with each slow step, she grew closer to the end. Then, there she was.
Elation and exhaustion filled her body in the same minute. She was weak in breath, her body spent, but in awe of her own capability. She had accomplished.
Later, after they’d parted ways with Annapurna, Kym and her boyfriend rewarded themselves to an Ultralight plane ride above the same mountains they’d just trekked.
Pure excitement filled her at the prospect of being back at 4,000 meters, the kind of excitement a child feels at the prospect of getting the present she’s always dreamed of. It’s the feeling she tries to nurture in her life as often as she can — honoring the child in her.
In the air, Kym watched the mountains rise around her, the same mountains she’d just felt beneath her aching feet days before. She met Annapurna again, from a different angle, at a different speed, and knew her better.
The air was frigid, but Kym’s spirit was full.
All in. A space and frame of mind in which Kym believes things will work out.
Sigur Ross’ music — haunting and beautiful, soft and strong — introduced her to Iceland in the early 2000s. When Kym went all in, when she became nomadic and began designing journeys around the world, all signs pointed to begin in Iceland.
Iceland felt like home to her soul from the moment she stepped on the land and saw the mountains rise from the water.
Iceland feels alive. Constantly changing and breathing and expanding beneath her feet. She can put her hand on a rock and feel the energy course through. Sometimes it’s as if she’s having a conversation with the land, her mind clear and at ease.
She returns every season, every year, yet never experiences the same thing twice.
So Kym searches. For new angles and perspectives and places. For beauty and wonder and elation. For a sense of discovery.
Kym is forever exploring.
See more of Kym’s photos on Instagram, and find out where her next journey will take place on her website.